3 ways to get the most out of your freelance writer
Most companies fail to maximize their relationships with freelancers
Why do people hire freelancers? Same reason you trust a mechanic with your car: domain expertise.
You want someone who can do it better than you can and who allows you to focus on what you're best at.
Or, perhaps you're just outsourcing to cut cost. That’s another strategy, but oftentimes you end up getting what you pay for, and if it's your family in that box on wheels hurtling down the highway, there certainly are benefits to paying a little extra. Same goes for freelance writing, where it's your business that's at stake.
writing is an investment, not an expense
Communication and presentation are worth some serious investment - customers, investors, and competitors will all read about you before they talk to you. In fact, as much as the first 66-90% of your customers’ buying journeys are completed without any direct interaction.
Shouldn’t you then be investing in the marketing content that generates that critical first impression? That’s precisely why most people opt to hire an expert.
But that's only half the battle. The other half is not letting that writer's domain expertise go to waste once you have them. Freelancers are commonly underutilized, under recognized, and under-rewarded in the ways that cost the you the least and matter to your business the most.
Here are 3 simple ways to maximize your freelancer relationships:
1. Find out what motivates them
Freelancers are people too. We almost shouldn't even have to say that, except that many employers fall into the trap of focusing on what freelancers can do for them at the expense of learning what makes them tick. Transactional relationships like these restrict the work to being good but never great. Freelancers in these situations won’t go above and beyond - why should they?
Take a moment and slow down. You’re not so busy that you can’t learn more about one more person. Find out what motivates them. Don't even dance around the subject - just come out and ask them what they love about their career. You'll hear things that fall into these categories:
- Learning/personal development
Speak to these. If they’re interested in learning, provide opportunities. Give them new projects that challenge them. Are they motivated by earnings? Give them incentives based around writing performance like shares and engagement. Do they cherish freedom? Work out a schedule where they can write as they wish, even if that means writing things months in advance. And are they neophiles? Share information and make them feel like insiders. If you have analyst reports and research that you’ve already paid for, pass along a few copies.
Do these things and you’ll find that they’re actually more motivated by the non-monetary rewards which leads to far finer work.
2. Show appreciation
For freelancers, submitting their work can sometimes feel like tossing their personal diary into the furnace. They've poured out their heart and soul and just like that all traces of it are gone. They've filled their strategic role for their employer and then it’s on to the next thing.
This is demoralizing, especially if they’re even partially motivated by appreciation (and who isn't?). You can bet that they got into freelancing because they enjoy what they do but it's hard to find joy without the occasional victory.
To solve this, simply give thanks. A simple note that you enjoyed their work is great, but go even further and invite them to share in the your team’s victories. Loop them into conversations about how their writing was used and the impact that it’s having, and offer up testimonials for them.
When freelancers feel appreciated, they’ll show deep gratitude. Your actions will be all the more pronounced because so few clients bother to do this. You’ll find that they work a lot harder on your account because they know that it will actually be noticed.
3. Give feedback
Any worthwhile freelancer wants to improve their skills and the only way that they can do that is by examining their failures. When there’s no communication about what went wrong, this loop is broken. Each client who thinks that it’s easier to fix a problem on their own than to edit, review, and re-work it robs their freelancer of the opportunity to learn to do it themselves, and it simultaneously dooms that client to always having to fix the same mistakes.
If there were too many typos, the freelancer needs to hear that. If the commentary featured too many question marks, that’s valuable intel. If the idea wasn't fully developed, that begs to be addressed.
Take the time to provide that feedback in a constructive manner and you’ll find that it forges an indelible bond. When you provide feedback you show that you’re investing in them to a degree that few clients do - you’re giving them what they need to progress in their careers. It’s one of the greatest gifts that you can offer which also happens to benefit you, because you’ll receive better work and endless loyalty.
A little bit of attention goes a long way
All of these tips sound pretty basic, right? They should. They’re just fundamentals to good relationship management. If you’re looking to maximize the value you get from your freelance writing experts you could do a lot worse than to understand their motivations, show appreciation, and provide genuine critical feedback.
In this way, you turn a transactional relationship into a working one, and that’s how you maximize the value for all.